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A conclusive presumption (also known as an irrebuttable presumption) in English law is a presumption of law that cannot be rebutted by evidence and must be taken to be the case whatever the evidence to the contrary.

For example, the doli incapax rule conclusively presumes that a child less than ten years old cannot be held legally responsible for their actions, and so cannot be convicted for committing a criminal offence. The age was seven at common law, and raised by the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 to eight (section 50) and by the Children and Young Persons Act 1963 to ten. A similar rebuttable presumption, that a child between the ages of ten and fourteen was not capable of committing a criminal offence, was abolished by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. Now the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is 10.

Many conclusive presumptions have been abolished in recent years. For example:

The new addition to the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (c. 37) states

Section 34: Abolition of rebuttable presumption that a child is doli incapax. The rebuttable presumption of criminal law that a child aged 10 or over is incapable of committing an offence is hereby abolished. [2]

See also the case of R v JTB [2009] UKHL 20. Despite obiter comments in the earlier case of Crown Prosecution Service v P [2007] EWHC 946 (Admin) (27 April 2007), doli incapax as a defence and as a presumption for children aged 10 or above was abolished by section 34 Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

Tasmanian Environment Protection

In Tasmania, logging practices which are destroying habitat of threatened species were made legal after a clause was added to the Regional Forest Agreement which made the conclusive presumption that environmental management strategies and prescriptions were being applied. This prevented a legal case against the forestry industry being taken to a higher court.[1]

See also


  1. ^ Brown v Forestry Tasmania [1]

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